Thursday, July 5, 2018

July Update: Setbacks

Nothing like finding a pattern, accepting that it changes, then having the whole thing go out the window.

At the end of May, I had the first in a long line in some health issues. Then friends and family had health issues. And, not surprisingly, all of that really sucks creativity dry. I barely had the energy to do my normal day-to-day stuff, so there wasn't anything left for writing.

Don't get me wrong. I love writing. It's a great escape. But it takes up a lot of space, both time-wise and mentally. Especially when trying to write on the level that I am.

So, when I hit the last week of June and hadn't done much at all, I adjusted my goals to be more modest. I still didn't make those goals, so now I'm just calling June my mid-year break. I think sometimes I need a slower month. Especially when life happens beyond its normal scope.

I did get a Cafe story written, and wrote a few thousand on book three, so I managed to pull out just under 6k words written for the month, with about 10 hours of editing various things (mostly my Cafe story and some tweaks to book three as I was re-familiarizing myself with characters and tone). Not too shabby, all things considered.

This month, I had originally planned on writing the next SP adventure, but at the last minute, I decided I was in the mood to keep working on book three. So now my goal is to finish it up this month. That way I can keep my Camp continuity like I wanted in April. I just broke 100k for the book, and the rest of the scenes should be fairly straightforward. We're rushing toward the climax now. I know all the scenes that need to happen to get me there. And right now, when I do sit down to write, the words come easily. So I'm optimistic I can get this done this month.

That means I might not get to Druid Wars edits. Which means I might be ruining the one agent like I got on Twitter for #SFFpit. But I don't mind too much. A like is a like, so even if I don't get around to submitting it to her until, like, October, she'd still be interested, right?

Anyway. Because of this little snag in my writing progress, I'm having to revamp my project timeline. MystWatch and Druid Wars are my big projects now. I want to get both of those done this year. Which means that, yet again, Pandemonium book one is getting pushed back. I'll work on it next year.

And that shifts everything else back almost a year. So. I might be waiting until 2021 to publish MystWatch. And that's okay. Looking that far ahead is fun, but making definite plans for the future is silly, because it's so easy to get off track and really berate myself for that. I'd rather focus on the progress I've actually made than the goals I've failed to meet.

The most important thing I think I've realized after deciding to push all my goals back is that I have all the time in the world right now. I can take two years to write a book. I can take a full year to edit a book. I don't have fans or contracts or deadlines. And right now, I really like that. I can read books and watch shows and take time off. Just because I can write 15k a month doesn't mean I have to do it every month.

I know I've realized that before, but I'm trying to remind myself of that frequently. There's no rush. I've got time. The longer I wait, the more material I'll have built up, which means the less I'll have to push myself in the future. I need lots of space and time.

I do want to query Druid Wars this year. I do. But I want to finish book three first, so I can focus on it better.

And then for NaNo, I want to write something new! I don't know what yet. But I also don't really want to think about it yet, because I got tired of my NaNo idea last year before I'd even really started. I'd love to do a real NaNo this year. Really push myself to write a crazy novel in a month. Participate in events and stuff. Not worry about markets or agents or editing or messing up continuity in a given series. I hope I can pull that off.

But I have to get everything else done this year first.

So. For July, I will aim to finish book three. That's it. In August, I'll edit Druid Wars, then once that's ready to start submitting, I'll write the SP adventure I didn't write this month. September, I'll start editing book three, maybe write Shane's short. In October, I'll finish editing book three and maybe write another SP adventure. Then, I'll be ready for NaNo in November. Then in December, I'll tie up any loose ends. If there are no loose ends, I will rest.

And that's as far as I'm planning. A year at a time, Sara. Baby steps will still get me there, in the end.

Friday, June 1, 2018

June Update: Same Old Story

Nothing like finding a pattern in something and then have it go completely sideways on you.

My productive half of the month flip-flopped on me, so I wrote almost my entire word count goal's worth of words by the 19th. So yeah. I guess the pattern to recognize isn't that certain halves of the month are more productive, or that the moon has anything to do with it, but rather that I will sometimes hit a groove during the month and sometimes I will hit a slump. Who knows when those will come, but I'm still writing consistently each month, so that's the biggest thing to keep in mind.

I easily wrote 15k words. I even ended up at about 17k words, after throwing some words at a Cafe story and participating in ConQuesT's Story-in-a-Bag contest.

I still haven't edited Druid Wars. I edited some SP shorts instead. Those are at a point where I think they just need one more line edit each, and then proofread by someone not me. And I've actually found someone to proofread for me. So that's coming along. Now I just need to write a bunch more, and I can maybe actually start monetizing them. Probably will still be a couple years yet, but that's solidifying nicely. I'm happy with things so far. I had a friend read the first couple, and she says they are a lot of fun. That's all they're really meant to be, so she's given me the confidence to go ahead with my publishing plan for them.

I'm still writing words on book three, and I'm at a point where I know all the rest of the scenes and am excited to write it. I'm aiming to write another 15-20k in June. If all goes well, I'll be able to wrap it up before July so I can spend July doing another SP Camp NaNo.

I still haven't gotten any bites as far as short story submission. I think I have one more market in mind for my time travel flash, and then I'm relegating it to the Cafe. The others I have out I am not optimistic for. I may throw one more story out there when a specific market opens up in August, but for now, I'm done with all that. It was a distraction. It's taking energy I don't really have. It was fun at first, but the rejections are starting to bother me. I know I could always try unpaid markets, but half the reason I decided to do it was to make a few bucks. I'm at a point where I don't want to write for free anymore. So I need to let the short story thing go. I'm not a short story writer. I write them for fun. I can't expect to make money on them. If I do, great. But if not, ah well.

One thing I did do last month that I hadn't planned for was submit book one to one last publisher. Maybe they'll take a chance on me. It would be so, so nice not to have to do everything myself. So fingers crossed for that. I should hear back in a couple months.

So yeah. That's where I'm at right now. Almost done writing book three. Ready to write SP 2.2 next month. Hoping against hope I might get book one picked up. And very behind on editing Druid Wars.

For June, as I mentioned, I'd like to throw enough words at book three to finish it up. And I'd like to get Druid Wars fixed up by the time #SFFpit happens on the 28th. Same old stuff. But. I'm trudging right along. Maybe I'll have more exciting things to say for next month's update!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

May Update: Patterns and Progress

I'm only four months into this year at this point, but I'm keeping up a pretty good routine. My overall goal for this year has been to try to write around 15k words a month and spend at least a little bit of time editing each month. I spent most of January editing, but the last three months, I've been trying to find a balance. With varying degrees of success.

I've noticed some patterns the last few months of tracking my word count and progress. The first half of the months, even if I write every day, I don't seem to make much progress. The writing comes slowly and laboriously. I don't get lost in the world as much. But by the second half of the month, I seem to hit my stride. In April, I had more than one day where I wrote 2k words or more. Six days like that, to be exact. And while the previous two months there wasn't a substantial difference in word count from first half to second half of the month, in April, I wrote 3k words total in the first two weeks, and 16k in the second two weeks.

I don't have a good explanation for this. It could be coincidence. It could be that I expect myself to change gears right at the change of month, and it takes a week or two for my inspiration to catch up. It could be a deadline thing, where I procrastinate the first half of the month, then work to catch up the second half. Which would make sense if the level of energy for writing wasn't so drastically different. Maybe it's a new moon verses full moon thing. The day after the new moon last month, my progress skyrocketed. That's my best explanation so far, since going back and tracking progress over the last year, it seems to correspond with the moon phases. Saying that out loud sounds a bit crazy, so maybe that is all in my head. Who knows.

Regardless, it's nice to see patterns in the month. It's comforting to know that my slumps won't last forever, and that I go through them every month.

At any rate, my goals last month were to finish up SP 2.1 and edit Druid Wars to incorporate beta reader feedback.

The start to the month, like the month before, was slow. Despite sitting down to write every day that first week, I made minimal progress. But the second half of the month, things kicked into gear, and I not only managed to surpass my word count goal for the month, I actually even did manage to finish the adventure, which, until the last couple of days, I wasn't sure I could pull off. I even threw some words on the next adventure, which was fun and ridiculous, but I'm so glad I did it. It'll make Camp in July easier to get into, since I have a start. And easier to finish, since my average word count goal is 15k, and I already have 1.5k words written.

I still haven't worked on Druid Wars, though. I spent about two hours poking at it one day, and I talked to one of my writing friends about some of the edits I had concerns about, but I've not done anything substantial.

I can't put it off any longer, though. The Twitter pitch contest SFFpit takes place on June 28. I want to have this thing ready by then, so that means dev edits this month and line edits next month. My goal is to do dev edits pretty early this month and get them done, so I have at least a couple of weeks between one pass and the next. The only downside of that is I have to shift gears to go right into edits this month. I'm still bathing in the glow of the recently full moon, so it may be hard to choke off the desire to write and shift into the more analytical editing mode. Although I do need to write a scene or two, so perhaps I can focus on that.

The trouble is, I'm still not all that interested in the Druid Wars world. Last month, I attributed my hesitance to fear of having another book ready to query. After a good hard look at the book and the edits I need to make, I realized that a lot of my problem is excitement. I just don't have any for that world right now. So I'll have to make a choice. Continue with my timeline, which means I'm going to have to suck it up and do it anyway, or fall back on my new emerging idea of working on what I want to work on now while I can, since I don't have contractual obligations at this time.

Still, the editing portion of the month wasn't a total loss. I spent a day working on finishing edits to another SP adventure in the first season, so that's something. I just spent so much time working and reworking the outline for the adventure I was doing for Camp that that part of my brain was fried. Plus the aforementioned trouble with interest in what I was supposed to be editing.

The biggest thing I did last month that I didn't really plan for was short story submission. It started as kind of a procrastination technique, but it was also a nice changing of gears. Plus, I've dealt with so much rejection in the last year, I was hoping to get a short story accepted so I would have some success to speak of. Sadly, at this point, that's all been rejections, as well. Although one rejection was kind enough to invite me to submit something else during their submission period because they liked my writing, just not the story I submitted. That was very validating. I even poked at another short story to submit to them for a few days. Although the progress on that was so negligible, I didn't even record the word count on my spreadsheet. I'm sad to have missed that opportunity, but I decided, in the long run, my energies were better spent elsewhere. I just didn't have anything else for them.

Overall, I wrote 19k words in April and spent six hours editing various things. Mostly SP stories.

In May, I really have to do dev edits for Druid Wars. I'll give it a few days to see if I can get myself interested, maybe poke at other projects, but then I'll have to buckle down and force myself to do it. That's my main goal this month.

My other goal is to get back to work on MystWatch book three. Which is good. I'm feeling the pull of that story, the stirrings of inspiration to work on it. If I can throw another 15k words at it this month, I should be able to wrap it up with another 15k next month. If all goes well. If it doesn't, I can finish it up in July. But come August, I have got to put this world behind me and move on to the next big thing.

I've been feeling a bit unsettled the last month, since the two main projects I've actually worked on are projects that I will have to self-publish if I want to see them in print. Which isn't to say it's not good practice writing and editing or that someday I won't be glad to have these things. But I'm getting more and more impatient with myself. I turn 40 in less than three years, now. I can't help but feel like I'm running out of time.

Which is silly. It's not like I'm going to stop trying when I hit 40. I have an impressive body of work. I'm not limited to mainstream publishing, and everything is fodder down the line. I know I just have to keep at it. And I will. I just have to be okay with adjusting my expectations from time to time. That's why this blog is so necessary. I have to check in with myself every month, see how I'm doing and incorporate new information to my ever-evolving goals.

I'm right where I should be, doing the things I should be doing. It's all going to work out.